University lifestyles often promote binge drinking, but how do we know when to stop?
In April 2017, I made the decision to take a break from partying. No more frantically clearing my schedule for an event in fear of missing out (FOMO). No more rushing to clubs at midnight, hoping to meet someone special on the dance floor. No more anxious cab rides holding in a queasy stomach. No more making excuses for an activity I never really enjoyed.
Of course, it took me years to realize I don’t actually like partying. I used to be one of those people who hyped my friends up; I’d hear an electronic dance music song on the radio during the day and remember a time the DJ dropped it at 2 a.m. Immediately, I’d get this overwhelming itch to gather everyone I knew on any dance floor. Oh, and to drink half a bottle of spiced rum by myself.
This was until the day I finally accepted that this behaviour was squeezing the life out of me. From anxiety to disappointment, the majority of my nights always drifted into gloom. I mean, sure, there were those exceptional moments of hilarity, hype or authentic conversation that made me think going out that night was worth it. Those exceptions kept me coming back for more and, ultimately, had me romanticizing a toxic lifestyle.
Partying is an integral activity in university culture, and for many, it’s a source of freedom. However, that’s not always the case. How could it be, when alcohol is a depressant, clubs are loud and crowded, and drunk actions are typically frivolous and forgotten? For old souls, pouring time and energy into a lifestyle that provides fleeting satisfaction is more draining than fulfilling.
If you’re constantly making excuses for the negative emotions you experience during or after a night out, I urge you to take a step back from partying. Don’t overlook your feelings in the name of being “hungover,” or thinking that you’re simply “too sensitive.” Don’t blame a bad night on logistics, like a cheap venue or crappy weather—it’s quite possible that, like me, partying just doesn’t cut it for you.
One great way to assess whether you should party less is to make a list of your top 10 life memories—moments you remember fondly and would relive in a heartbeat. How many of them happened during a night of binge drinking? If the answer is less than five, I’d say party in moderation; that list is proof you won’t be missing out.
If you’re still unsure, consider this: in 2014, a study about drinking habits around the world found there’s a whole slew of millennials who don’t actually enjoy binge drinking; and no, it’s not because they’re under some repressive religious or political regime. I’m talking about countries like France, Italy, Spain—places plenty of North American millennials dream of visiting. In these cultures, the majority of university students actually think drunkenness kind of sucks. The nausea, irreversible texts and embarrassing mishaps all make the idea of losing inhibition much less appealing. These millennials don’t owe each other explanations as to why they’re not overdoing it. They’re free to go to the party without actually partying.
How does one do that, you ask? Well, here are a few tips: don’t stay out too late. Drink less. Go out with people who like you when you’re sober; go out with people you like sober. And before going anywhere, ask yourself why you’re going. If FOMO is the reason, just skip the damn party.
Graphic by Ana Bilokin